Challenging Spanish GP through Grip Issues for Movistar Yamaha
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi gave their all in an eventful race today, but a struggle with grip saw the riders finish in sixth and tenth place respectively at the Gran Premio de España.
Viñales started from fourth on the grid, but got pushed back to fifth as the field bunched up in the first corner. He put his head down, but had to let Johann Zarco pass him as he used the opening laps to get heat into his tyres. At the end of lap 5 the familiar number 25 found himself in ninth after a flurry of activity. Jorge Lorenzo had squeezed past and a little later a close battle between Viñales and Andrea Iannone caused both riders to go wide, allowing Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso through. However, the young Spaniard wasnt out of contention yet.
The Yamaha rider was on a second wind and fought his way past Iannone, as Cal Crutchlow crashed out of fourth place. After overtaking Rossi and Dovizioso in one swoop, with 14 laps to go, Viñales tried to shake off both rivals, but was unable to clear off completely. Dovizioso put up a fight and, with ten laps to go, a small moment for the home hero meant he had to hand over fifth place. The Spaniard kept his cool and opted to secure ten solid points for the championship, crossing the line in sixth position, 24.556s from first, after a challenging race weekend.
Teammate Rossi had a solid start from seventh position, climbing up a place going into the first twisty section, but it wasnt to last. He crossed the line for the first time in seventh place as he got into an early battle with Zarco, and later with Lorenzo and Viñales. However, the nine-time World Champion soon saw an opportunity to move up the order and grabbed it with both hands.
Within five laps the Doctor moved up from ninth to fifth, but had to make his YZR-M1 as wide as possible to hold off Dovizioso. With 17 laps to go, a small wobble cost Rossi fifth position. It was the first sign of grip troubles for the Italian, who was unable to keep a charging Danilo Petrucci, Aleix Espargaró and Jonas Folger at bay. He crossed the line in tenth place, 38.682s from the front.
Viñales’s sixth place puts him on 60 points and second place in the rankings, two points behind championship leader Rossi, who has earned a total of 62 points. Todays results see Yamaha still holding the lead in the Constructor’s Championship with a four-point margin. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team also remains on top in the Team’s Championship standings, 12 points ahead of its closest rival.
The Yamaha Factory Racing Team will be back in action in two weeks’ time for the Grand Prix de France at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit.
Position: 10th – Championship: 1st – Points: 62
“It was a very difficult race after a difficult weekend. I never had a good feeling with the bike and the tyres. We tried to work a lot, especially to fix the spin and acceleration, but unfortunately for the race we did worse. We tried to modify it a bit, but I was also in trouble with the front. At the end I had to slow down a lot and had a lot of vibration. It was OK to arrive right at the end, but it was a difficult weekend for the whole team. We expected to be stronger and more competitive at this track, looking at the results of last year. We need to try and understand what happened, tomorrow we have the test and well see.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Todays results make for a disappointing ending to the first European round of the season. After the warm up results, we couldnt have expected that the Spanish GP was going to turn out to be this type of race. Maverick started the race with the same configuration as he had during the warm up, but from the very beginning of the race he struggled with the front. Valentino had exactly the same problem. It seems the hardest front tyre works better on our bike in cooler temperatures, because this was the only difference between the warm up and the race. We will analyse todays data and learn from it. Luckily, tomorrow we will spend one more day testing here, so we will try to understand what caused todays outcome.”
Remarkable Zarco concludes round 4 battle in 4th Folger notably powers to 8th
Johann Zarco completed a highly impressive rout at the 3000th Motorcycle Grand Prix event today, whereby he finished as the leading Yamaha rider, the top independent competitor and the fastest rookie. The high-flying rookie undertook a memorable charge forward in the opening stages of the race to move up from 6th on the grid to second by the close of the fourth lap. He maintained his consistency before eventually meeting the chequered flag in 4th. Meanwhile, Jonas Folger clinched his third top ten finish of the year as he impressively recovered from slipping back to 14th in the opening part of the Spanish GP. With seven laps remaining, he powered past Valentino Rossi and opened a comfortable gap before speeding across the finish line in 8th.
Postion: 4th – Championship: 6th – Points: 35
“I feel so happy about our performance today. Jerez is a complicated track and all of the riders were really close in qualifying so it has been a challenge here. At the beginning of the race, my feeling was great and I felt very comfortable, plus I had the confidence. I was able to overtake some of the top guys and then when I was second, I still felt good. However, I almost crashed twice, which allowed Marc to overtake me and from that moment I was wondering what would happen. I could not push anymore on the front because I was really on the limit and so I wasnt able to follow the top two riders. I remained in third for a long time, but when Jorge overtook me, I was thinking that I could manage the gap, yet he was more consistent than me in the last eight laps. The target is to be on the podium or as close as possible to it, so we did the job today. I am happy and now I will take a good rest so that I can be strong again for my home race in two weeks. I am positive about going to Le Mans and this is perhaps why I am thinking that everything is going well now, so maybe the most difficult time is yet to come. The best way to control the pressure that I will feel in France is to enjoy every moment, live in the present and appreciate our work.”
Postion: 8th – Championship: 8th – Points: 28
“I am pleased with the result today and we collected some important points for the championship. I still need to keep improving, but especially on the opening lap. I made too many mistakes today when we got going, but in the race, when the tyres dropped, my pace was similar to Maverick and Johann and I made up a lot of ground. This seems to be the case so far in my rookie season, but I need to work on myself and analyse the Grand Prix to see what I can do differently so that I dont lose as many positions in the first five or six laps. It was my fourth point scoring finish this year, which I am happy about, and I hope to make a step up at the next round which will be special as its the teams home race in Le Mans.”
“It was an unbelievably exciting GP for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team. We knew that a good race was possible but the temperature was very high and this circuit gets tricky with the grip when its this hot and so the tyres played a big part. At the start, Johann made some really good overtakes to get up to second, and we couldnt believe how well he was doing, just like in the previous three Grand Prixs! I thought that he was taking advantage of the softer front than the factory guys and that this would change at the half race distance. Yet, he never slowed down and the tyres were consistent until the finish. Im sure that he could have made a move on Jorge at the end, but the gap to Dovizioso behind him was increasing all the time, so he wisely decided to bring the bike home and get the points. He was the fastest Yamaha rider and I am honoured that these points will be added to the Yamaha tally in the constructor’s championship. I must admit that Johann doesnt seem to be behaving like a rookie as he was with Marquez, Pedrosa and Lorenzo and he didnt seem to be struggling to keep up with them at all! This is happening at the best moment because the next round is his home race in Le Mans and Im sure that everyone will be coming to support Johann and Tech3 there. On the other side of the garage, Jonas Folger produced an incredible ride as well. He was a bit more cautious in the opening laps but then he showed great determination and ran similar lap times to his teammate. Eventually, he caught the group in front of him where Valentino was, and he passed him cleanly before opening up a gap and then meeting the flag in 8th, which is a great team result. Jonas spent a lot of time on his own but the lap times were certainly impressive and just like Johann, he is learning a lot and we are very happy with our two guys. There is a test tomorrow where hopefully both of them will learn more about how to setup and understand their MotoGP bikes. We are a really pleased team and I must say thank you to Yamaha for their superb support and thanks to our riders who both did very well.”
Position: 6th – Championship: 2nd – Points: 60